Spring is just around the corner, and that means potential floods. Everyone in this city remembers how disastrous the June 2013 flood was. Even after the lessons learned and changes that were made, however, Calgary remains at a high flood risk.
In high-risk flood areas, your home is more likely to be damaged by flooding than by fire. If the flooding is bad — as bad as in 2013 — you could spend a lot of money fixing your home.
The High Cost of Flood Damage
It’s important to have a spring plumbing checklist to help prevent the high costs of flood damage. How high? The 2013 flood alone saw insured losses totalling $1.74 billion.
According to the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program:
- The average flood claim was almost $42,000 between 2010 and 2014.
- Total flood claims averaged more than $3.5 billion yearly between 2005 and 2014.
There’s more to it than just increased insurance premiums after flood damage, though. The average household plumbing system is worth roughly 15 percent of your home’s value. Protecting your pipes is vital, particularly if you want to resell your house.
With the change in seasons fast approaching, there’s plenty of work to do beyond the usual spring cleaning. The following spring plumbing tips will help keep your pipes, pumps, valves and drains in good working order.
1. Make Sure Your Drains Are Clear
You need to ensure that your drains work properly before things thaw. This will help you avoid nasty spring plumbing problems.
- Check that your yard drains, gutters, vents and downspouts are free of any debris and that they work. Debris includes leaves, sticks and birds’ nests. Clearing them will prevent them from getting clogged and causing water damage, leaks and mold.
- Exposure to mold can affect your health. Symptoms include:
- Coughing and wheezing.
- Shortness of breath or asthma-like issues.
- Allergic reactions.
- Eye, nose and throat irritation.
- Exposure to mold can affect your health. Symptoms include:
- You should unblock your household drains with a Zip-It tool to get rid of hair and dirt. You can manually clean your sink traps, too, by removing and washing them. This might sound like a tough amount of work. Knight Plumbing, however, can easily do this for you.
Other Spring Plumbing Tips for Drains
There are a few things you can do now to prevent your indoor drains from clogging in the first place:
- Put filters on all of your indoor drains. This will keep hair, soap and other stuff from causing blockages.
- Wash your showerhead with white vinegar. This will help get rid of mineral deposits that can muck up your pipes. A water softener will save you from having to do this.
- Use cans for cooking fats that you can throw out instead of sending them down the drain.
- Clean your waste disposal system, if you have one. Do this on an ongoing basis.
- Have Knight Plumbing look at your washing machine if you regularly wash heavily soiled clothes. (This is particularly true if your kids played in the mud and sand a lot the previous summer.) Expert plumbers can spot and remove clogs caused by clothes washing. Empty your washer’s lint trap often, too, to prevent lint from building up in your water pipes.
2. Ensure Your Sump Pump Works
If you have a sump pump, and you should, have it ready for when you need it:
- Carefully oil it based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Test it by pouring a couple of buckets of water into the sump pit. The pump should then start, allow the water to pass through and then turn off by itself. If not, have it fixed or replaced.
- You should also test your sump pump every three or four months.
3. Consider a Backwater Valve
A backwater valve sits on your main sewer line. It’s a valve that prevents sewage from backing up into your home. Even if you don’t live near a floodplain, they are still a good investment. Your home can still flood from overwhelmed sewers away from rivers cresting their banks.
Check These Valves for Debris
If you already have a backwater valve, be sure debris hasn’t lodged against the seal of the valve. If it has, the valve won’t close firmly or work properly. That will spell disaster during a flood.
Clean Your Valves On Schedule
Most backwater valves work automatically. You can avoid buildup from forming on automatic valves by:
- Removing the lid.
- Cleaning the seat.
- Greasing the valve gate’s hinge pin.
If you have a manual valve, operate it by hand twice a year. This will:
- Protect it from corrosion.
- Reduce the likelihood that dirt or refuse will keep it from closing.
4. Tune Up Your Water Heater
Water heaters can corrode from sediment collecting at the bottom. This can reduce:
- Energy efficiency.
- The heater’s effectiveness.
You can drain water out of the heater to get rid of sediment.
You will also want to replace your water heater if it is more than 15 years old. New ones are better at saving energy.
5. Check Your Outdoor Water Faucet for Leaks
Be sure your hose bib — your outdoor water faucet — doesn’t have leaks. Chances are good it’ll have a leak if you left your garden hose attached to it during the winter.
If the hose bib has a leak, you might have a frozen water supply pipe. This pipe can expand and crack when warmer weather arrives and then leak. Call Knight Plumbing to replace the leaky pipe as soon as possible to prevent water damage.
Look for Indoor Leaks, Too
Examine your sinks, toilets, faucets and appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, for leaks as well. You can test for leaks by:
- Leaving a bowl under your sink faucets and see if water gathers there. If it does, replace and grease both the seat and spring underneath the faucet.
- Checking beneath your sinks. If the area is wet, dry it and look for damage. Turn on both the cold and hot water taps to find out the leak’s source. One of the risers, which you can easily replace on your own, might be the problem.
- Placing six drops of food coloring into your toilet tank. It’ll take 20 to 30 minutes for the food colouring to appear in the toilet bowl if there’s a leak. Look for cracks and leaks in your toilet bowl, too.
You can now see that there’s a lot to do on your spring plumbing checklist. Making these checks, however, will help you avoid headaches and costly damage to your home in the end.